Player profile: Martin Gritton

Cod Almighty | Article

by Pete Green

28 July 2005

Imagine it is the first weekend of 2006. In the first round of the FA Cup the Mariners survived a scare against, I dunno, Forest Green, before progressing comfortably through the second at the expense of, oooh, let's say Boston. How excited we were, or were supposed to be, when the draw for the third round paired Town with Chelsea (whose 100 per cent league record already has them 19 points clear at the top of the Premiership).

So the BBC has bagsied the game, moved it to Sunday and despatched Motty to Blundell Park. Lineker and Hansen have done all their smirking back in the studio, and Motson is taking us through the teams. "Well, this Chelsea side has cost around four hundred of Roman Abramovich's millions – and counting! Remarkably, their opponents today, Grimsby Town, have spent one 80,000th of that amount on their entire squad: just five thousand pounds."

And all those eggs, as we know, have been put in Martin Gritton's basket. Have the Mariners seen an acceptable return on this staggering outlay? Counsel for the defence respectfully submits, m'lud, that despite a superficially disappointing four goals in 23 appearances, the defendant quickly struck up a partnership with Michael Reddy which looks capable, if maintained for the best part of the 2005–06 season, of bewildering fourth division defences with the sort of pace and technique they are unlikely to encounter very much elsewhere at this level. Exhibit A: Mr Gritton's exemplary previous record of a goal every three games.

The prosecution contends that, because he won't waste energy chasing the long balls that Town leather directly to the other team's back four, or just straight out for a throw-in, Gritton is lazy. The first and only witness for the prosecution is the bloke with the purple face on the back row of the Pontoon whose idea of support is booing the team off when it's nil-nil at half time. No further questions?

When he joined GTFC, furthermore, Gritton's Grimsby Telegraph interview departed from the tedious "hopefully I can do a job" script to add an endearing personal note about living out of a bag or something until he could get the rest of his stuff moved up from Devon. In football's era of the ego, such cute moments of whimsy are to be treasured out of all reasonable proportion. Subsequent odds and sods in the match programme suggest that his intelligence and charm far outstrip those of the average professional footballer in 2005, and in my idle moments I sometimes entertain a fancy that Mart is the only member of the Town squad who would listen to Belle & Sebastian. Case dismissed, and the prosecuting counsel is cited for contempt.